CKD cats

A tail I don’t quite know how to tell (2)

I returned from taking Jango on his final journey, to see if Henderson had managed to produce a urine sample for me.  He hadn’t but must have realised how stressed and upset I was because when I said “please Hendo just do me a wee” he popped straight in the litter tray and obliged.   Thus, after several weeks of not driving at all, I made two trips to the vet in the space of a couple of hours.  

Sat outside the vets for an hour in the car whilst they tested the sample to see if there was protein in it so that I could then take relevant medication home with me.  What they found in his urine though wasn’t protein, but sugar! … lots of it!  Henderson had added another diagnosis to his list – now he had hyperthyroid, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure AND diabetes!  And It was serious enough to need admission.  Lockdown hours meant that the vets were closing soon and we agreed it was best to wait and admit him first thing the following morning.

Thus on Tuesday morning we repeated the nightmare journey to the vets that we’d had with Jango on Monday morning.  Another very tearful car park handover with another lovely lovely vet nurse.  Henderson, unlike Jango, was alive but I feared I’d never see him again.  Conversations with vets had been kind and practical, planning what to do next …. but I’d noted the comments: “he is a very old cat”  “this isn’t a good diagnosis to have”.   Normally I’d have spent time visiting him whilst he was an in patient, and certainly would have been there if it came to him being put to sleep … but it seemed none of this could be possible.   I tentatively asked what would happen if it came to the worst but couldn’t quite bear to hear the answer … so may have misunderstood ….  it might be possible to do it on the car park.  This is in no way a criticism of the vet practice who I believe are doing their absolute best to make a terribly difficult situation as human and bearable as possible.  It’s more an acknowledgement of how agonising it’s been for all of us in these circumstances …. both with poorly animals and poorly humans.

I came home and wept … and waited.  We now had two fewer cats in the house than we’d had a couple of days previously.   The four “teenagers” continued to play out in the garden oblivious (I hope) to all the stress.  Amber our semi feral does her own thing, and I’m guessing dealt with it in her own way.  However Honey and to a slightly lesser extent Flipper were seriously distressed.  Flipper, a vocal cat at any time,  went around the house calling for her lost friends.   Honey paced the house and the garden for several hours – round and round the same circuits.   I’ve not quite seen anything like it before.  It wasn’t randomly roaming around, she was on a route march, feet stomping on the floor …. in through the cat flap, through the kitchen, round the lounge, back through the kitchen, into the conservatory, round the conservatory, back into the kitchen, out the cat flap, into the garden, along the wall, back the other way on the wall, up the garden, back down the garden, in through the cat flap … and repeat, and again … exactly the same circuit … and again …. and again …. and again.   To my horror I found myself feeling quite annoyed with her … I was exhausted, stressed and heartbroken and to watch her in her own way expressing similar (I think) sort of feelings but be completely unable to comfort her was almost more than I could bear.  

Wednesday was Flipper’s birthday … our kitten was 8!  We’ve always made a big deal of her birthday because she’s the only one of the residents who’s exact birthday we know.   She was born here on 6 May 2012 early in the morning.   With the “teenagers” here we at least know the year they were born and the younger ones we can pinpoint within about 2 weeks.  The other older cats though we don’t even know which years they were born.   Jango had been guessed to be 5 years old by the vet when he arrived here 10 years ago – but he could have been anything between about 3 and 9.  Henderson was guessed at 14 three years ago but again there’s a decent margin of error in these things.   This is why we try to make some sort of treat every day …. because you never know when it might be someone’s birthday x

Anyway … Flipper … we’d managed to get some boiled ham … one of her (and Henderson’s) favourites, a few new toys and some cat nip seeds to plant.  I’d looked forward to it … well what else is there during lockdown?   On the day it just wasn’t right though.  How on earth could we celebrate with Jango on his way to the crem and Henderson hooked up to a drip at the vets.  So we put it on hold.

Thursday arrived.  “We need to see what happens in the next 48 hours” were words I dwelled on after Hendo was admitted.  Here we were 48 hours later, each day bracing myself for a death sentence.  And the verdict? … “He can come home later this afternoon”.   Whilst it had been desperately painful to be away from Henderson,  once the prospect of his return was on the horizon my feelings did a double shuffle …. there was delight obviously, but also panic and a realisation of the extent to which him being in someone else’s care had been a relief.   Now it was going to be down to me again to watch him and make day to day, hour to hour decisions.  And of course it had to be a bank holiday the following day.  Can someone explain why when I’m exhausted with work and desperate for a break there isn’t a bank holiday in sight … but the minute we have a poorly cat they are always plentiful and imminent 😦  

Anyway, we arrived home with a slightly better looking Henderson, insulin, syringes, sharps box … and a jar of honey (thanks Aunty Jenny) in case of hypos.  We had a glucometer on order … which arrived Saturday … and were plunged into a world where sticking needles into cats several times a day had to become the new normal.   

All the cats seemed pleased to see him home, and we celebrated Flipper’s birthday just one day late.   

henderson with belated birthday ham

We had to be careful with the “teenagers” who were a little over enthusiastic with the head bumps and nearly knocked him off his feet.  At one point I think he only stayed upright through Dasher’s head bump because Kevin was doing the same on the other side …. equal and opposite forces and all that.  Everyone was pleased to have him home … he’s a very popular cat.

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In typical Henderson fashion, he’s been pretty much impervious to the insulin, as he is to the other meds he’s taking.  Despite being tiny and frail he seems to need a dose large enough to floor a rhinoceros to have any impact on him.  We’ve spend the last 6 weeks returning to the vet every couple of weeks for more blood tests and having his insulin dose increased based on the results.

It’s all been pretty daunting and scary, especially while the grief of losing Jango is still so terribly raw.  However he’s still here, he’s enjoying life and is a good patient in terms of tolerating the needles.   I’ve reached the point where I don’t feel stressed at all about doing his injections … it’s something I can do whilst the kettle is boiling in a morning and whilst tea is cooking at night.  I still get anxious about doing the blood tests … it’s not nice trying to make him bleed, even though thankfully it’s a only a very tiny drop of blood that’s needed. 

It’s been hard working from home since we lost Jango … our main office manager and sun tracker.  However it’s been a relief to still be home and be able to check on Henderson multiple times during the day.  There has been a big shake up in the office of course.   We’ve had to advertise for some of the key posts.  There have been applications, appointments, redeployments … some promotions and disappointments.   Catch up on all the office gossip in our next post 😉


Categories: cat, cat rescue, CKD cats, Sheffield | 2 Comments

Howard’s Tail

When we went over to my rescue friend to collect Dexi a few weeks ago we bumped into Howard.  He’s an older chap who had arrived with her that day.  To our knowledge he’d been living rough for some time (rumours suggest for 2-3 years, after his humans moved house and didn’t take him with them), but had come to more urgent attention just then as he had an abscess on his foot.   He’d been to the vet earlier that day, had an antibiotic shot and been discharged with some metacam.  He was sitting in a large crate looking sorry for himself, but still purring.   This was Wednesday, I knew Skye was off to her new home on the Saturday, so offered for him to have her bedroom from the Sunday.



He duly arrived and settled himself in.  Having eaten ravenously for a few days, I was told he had been off his food from that morning.   We tried every sort of food possible and he wouldn’t eat.  Then a day or two later he was eating ravenously,  drinking enormous amounts of water, and peeing with his sights on a world record.

His first vet appointment confirmed that his abscess was healing  nicely but his foot was swollen, and he had a temperature.  There were also the concerns about fluid intake and fluctuating appetite.  He complained a bit about Dr Fran poking his sore toe, and about where she put the thermometer … but on the whole he thought she was wonderful.

Then there was an anxious wait for blood tests. The first batch came through in a few days, revealing that he had anaemia and that there was a kidney problem – which we’d suspected because of his fluid consumption. A longer wait for results of FIV/FeLV tests. As an unneutered stray who had clearly been in fights Howard was a prime candidate for these viruses. [It’s hard to imagine Howard in a fight, he’s a sweet placid sort of chap. I’m sure it must have been the other cat who started it! I did offer for us to drive round the area he came from and see if we could spot the offending cat] Thankfully and amazingly the tests came back negative. So the next thing was a scan to see if anything sinister might be causing the problems. The various blood results suggested there might be something else going on. We decided to combine this with a little contraceptive advice, so Howard was in for the day at the vets. This was bliss for Howard … lots of lovely people fussing over him … though he has expressed a wish to pop back and check their “lost property” box at some stage.

Thankfully the scan didn’t show up anything awful … it was ‘just’ chronic kidney disease. He was told he’d need a special diet, lots of good quality food … just for him … which he was happy about. We went to see our friend Nic at Pet Company on the way back to the car. With the shop door safely locked he came out for a little snuggle. There are some lovely tasty sausages and treats on Nic’s counter. It was at that point that reality hit home – the special diet was ALL he was going to have … no sneaky nibbles of sausages. You can tell by the look on his face how pleased he was with this turn of events.

A few days on and we’re starting to get the hang of it. Ordered several different lots of specialist renal food. It’s tricky to tell whether the times he doesn’t eat it are because he doesn’t like it or whether its a spike in his kidney problems and he’s feeling rubbish and not wanting to eat.   Have to say I’m impressed by Royal Canin renal food. They do a special palatability pack … with samples of different flavours, wet/dry food, different textures of wet food.

To be fair, Howard has also enjoyed Hills Science kidney diet pouches … but there’s something reassuring about having lots of different options in one big box to offer him.

Currently resurrecting nearly 40 year old memories of A level biology to understand what’s going on for him. Our vet nurses have been hugely helpful too. This book loaned by one of them is really useful … enough info for it to feel like I can start to get my head around just what is happening inside Howard … but still gentle and “cat mom” friendly. Definitely recommend.

Meanwhile, Howard is zoning out on the nip

No prizes for guessing who is most stressed about the diagnosis 😉

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